The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released an alert on scams that cite the recent flood disaster in Louisiana, said the Department of Homeland Security.

Many scammers take advantage of disasters to scam people, and the FCT wants people to be more vigilant.

These charity scams take many forms, said FCT, including emails containing links or attachments that direct users to phishing or malware-infected websites. Donation requests from fraudulent charitable organizations commonly appear after major natural disasters.

Steps to Protect Yourself:

  • Review the FTC alert and its information on Charity Scams.
  • Do not follow unsolicited web links or attachments in email messages.
  • Keep antivirus and other computer software up-to-date.
  • Check this Better Business Bureau (BBB) list for helping Louisiana flood victims before making any donations to this cause.
  • Verify the legitimacy of any email solicitation by contacting the organization directly through a trusted contact number. You can find trusted contact information for many charities on the BBB National Charity Report Index.
  • Refer to  US-CERT’s Security Tip ST04-014 – Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks – for more information on social engineering attacks.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in e-mails unless you know who sent it. You could unknowingly install malware on your computer.
  • Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate. Research the organization yourself.
  • When texting to donate, confirm the number with the source before you donate. The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but donations are not immediate. It can take as long as 90 days for the charity to receive the funds.
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